Posts Tagged ‘Indo-Pakistan War’


Set (mainly) in Calcutta in 1971, this book tells of a time immediately before the Bangladesh Liberation War between India and Pakistan. A number of Western travellers have found themselves at the Lux Hotel, which in reality is a shabby fleapit. Among those who are in Calcutta at this historic time are Anand, the young man who runs the hotel, such as it is; Larry and Gordon, two would-be hippies who spend most of their time smoking dope and in Gordon’s case searching for the elusive meaning of life; Britt, an American photographer; Hugh, a philandering English journalist; and Freddie, an enigmatic young eccentric.

Despite the war, life is pretty laid back for most of these characters, with shared histories and complicated entanglements taking up most of their time – that is until two murders shake up their world. It will take more than 30 years for the truth behind the murders to come to light – and in the meantime, life marches on…

This book had been languishing on my shelf for about eight years, and I eventually picked it up more out of curiosity than anything. It turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. It depicts fictional characters against a factual backdrop, and while some of the characters might be slightly stereotyped, they are all distinct and interesting (if not all likeable – frankly Hugh was pretty detestable). The story was both interesting and amusing, and I was kept guessing  until the very end. I particularly liked how, through a series of letters and news reports, the time frame was brought up to 2003.

The India/Pakistan war was clearly well researched, but while it was almost a character in its own right, it did not dominate the storyline and did not detract from the interaction between the characters.

Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I would thoroughly recommend it.


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